By Alucia Kojan, Field Manager for Iraqi and Sudanese Refugees
Eblahed, age 58, along with his family of four is from the city of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq. In 2014, Qaraqosh was invaded by ISIS Jihadists and demanded that Christians living in the city submit to them. When ISIS stepped foot inside the Iraqi border, there wasn't a moment of solace left for Christians. Eblahed’s family told us they had to hastily flee from Iraq to Jordan, leaving everything behind after some ISIS Jihadist demanded that they either convert to the ISIS religion, leave the town immediately, pay or be executed. For his family, as well as many other refugees in Jordan, returning to Iraq isn't an option, as it could mean death. While Jordan as a country provides a safe refuge for Eblahed’s family, there are many life-threatening challenges they are experiencing socially, physically, financially.Their livelihood opportunities are extremely limited.
Eblahed and his wife Suad have a daughter Sarah and grandson who live with them. Sarah is in the middle of a divorce because of violent domestic abuse from her ex-husband, which has also created family separation and denial of her son's passport.
Eblahed worked in Iraq for 35 years and was close to his retirement when ISIS invaded. Because he left his country, he cannot collect his retirement benefits. He was able to do many tasks to earn a living in his previous years, but now he is too old to start over again. His health has deteriorated because of his age and poor living conditions. He has had a mild heart attack, and his wife has serious knee conditions. Even if he was allowed to work in Jordan, he cannot because of his health and age. He informed me, “I'm an old man and I'm sick and I'm not working. We depend on our daughter. She is doing casual work, and her meager income is not enough to meet minimal needs for the entire family, buy food and medication, pay for rent and education for my grandchildren.”
Given the limited work opportunities in Jordan, the family has approached the Australian Embassy and the U.S. Embassy seeking resettlement chances, but have been denied several times.
Eblahed’s family is special to Restoring Faith because we have known and visited them for five years. They have become like family. They represent so many Iraqi Christian refugees whose stories are very similar and equally tragic. The Iraqi refugee families are all very thankful to those from America and around the world who help them with food, heat and aid.